Final Call for Widower Dating Stories

A final reminder that tomorrow is the deadline for stories for my upcoming widower dating guide. Specifically, I’m looking for stories that relate to the following situations:

  • How soon did you start dating after the death of your late wife? Why did you feel like dating again? If it was less than a year after her death, how did you overcome any negative reactions from friends and family once they found out you were dating again?
  • How did you overcome any guilt that came with dating again and/or starting a serious relationship?
  • Once you became serious with someone, how did you make room in your life and in your heart for someone else?
  • How did you handle grown, adult children that weren't happy that you were in a new relationship?
  • How did you handle minor children living at home who weren't happy that you were in a new relationship?
  • What did you do with the late wife’s photographs, clothing and other possessions once you were married or had the new woman move into your home?
  • Were you able to maintain a relationship with the late wife’s family and your new love?
  • What is the best thing about falling in love and starting a new chapter of your life with someone else?

Your story doesn't have to have a happy ending. If things didn't work out, I want to hear from too as there’s something to be learned from good and bad experiences.

To submit your story for consideration, send it to me via email. Please keep submissions between 250 – 700 words. You can submit more than one story but please send them in different emails. (This way I can sort them by topic better.) All submissions must be received by July 31, 2013. The author of any story that makes it into the book will receive a free copy of the yet-to-be-titled dating guide upon publication. To protect your privacy, you can publish your story under a pen name if you wish. I’m hoping to have the dating guide available sometime this fall.

Widower Stories Due Thursday

Just wanted to remind everyone that if you’re planning on submitting a story to my final widower relationship book, I need it no later than Thursday, November 1. I've re-posted what I’m looking for below. Email me with any questions. Thanks!

***

I’m in the midst of writing my final widower relationship guide. Tentatively titled Life with a Widower, the book will focus on the most common problems and issues not covered in my first two books. I’m hoping to have the book available before the end of the year.

And this is where I need your help.

My other two relationship books, Dating a Widower and Marrying a Widower have included wonderful stories from women who were dating or married to a widower. These stories have added insight to the chapter and helped countless others who are in a relationship with a widower. For this book I need stories from those who are or have been in a relationship with a widower. It doesn't matter if you just dated a widower once or have been happily married to one for 30 years, if you have a story to share, send it in.

I’m looking for stories that can address the following situations:

  • How did the late wife’s Facebook page or other online memorials affect your relationship?
  • What happened when you gave your widower a second chance at the relationship?
  • How did get the strength and courage to end the relationship with a widower even though you were still in love with him?
  • If the widower told you about his sex life with the late wife, how did this impact your relationship?
  • How did memorial tattoos interfere with or enhance your relationship?
  • What are some ways you learned to better communicate with a widower?
  • How did you forgive a widower that dumped you, used you, or otherwise hurt you?
  • What did you widower do when friends and family kept trying to memorialize the late wife?
  • How did a long distance relationship with a widower work out?
  • Does your widower participate in annual events (like 5k runs) for the late wife or work in behalf of charities, foundations, or scholarships for the late wife? If yes, has that hindered or helped your relationship?

I’m looking for success stories as well as ones where things didn’t work out. Basically if you have a story that you think can help other girlfriends of widowers and wives of widowers with their current relationship I want to hear from you!

Please keep submissions between 250-750 words. You can submit more than one story but please send them in different emails. (This way I can organize them for quick reference.) Stories are due no later than Thursday, November 1, 2012. You can submit them by sending an email to writer@abelkeogh.com.

If your story is selected, you’ll receive a free copy of the new book as soon as it’s published. To protect your privacy, you can publish your story under a pen name if you wish.

Thanks for your help,

Abel

Widowers Dating Again Facebook Group

Ever since I created the “Dating a Widower” Facebook group, I’ve always been asked when I’m going to create a similar group for widowers who are dating again. I’ve always been hesitant to do so seeing how men are less likely to participate in such a group but have finally decided to create a group called Widowers Dating Again. The purpose of the group is to give widowers a chance to vent, ask questions, or discuss dating and relationships the second time around. So if you’re a widower who meet the qualifications below, feel free to join. If you’re dating a widower, feel free to tell them about this group.

The group is specifically for widowers who are:

  • thinking about dating
  • dating
  • in a serious relationship
  • engaged
  • remarried

To join the group, click here.

Questions? Shoot me an email.

My Next Book

I want to thank everyone for the support they’ve given my latest book, Dating a Widower. Sales have surpassed expectations and the reviews and feedback have been very positive. As a result of its success, I’m thrilled to announce that a follow-up book, Marrying a Widower, is in the works and will be released the first half of next year. Look for more details in January. Like its predecessor, I’ll be asking for readers to contribute their stories. So if you’re engaged to, married to, or divorced from a widower, start thinking about a story you might want to share. A full list of topics will be posted in January.

And no, I haven’t stopped writing fiction. I expect to release a novel next year as well. Look for more details on that in early 2012.

Dating a Widower Book Update

Quick update on the status of the Dating a Widower guide. All the feedback from beta readers was received last week. I appreciate all of them taking the time to read it and give me their thoughts. Though the overall feedback was positive, several beta readers expressed concerns that the book was a little off the mark of what it was trying to accomplish. After taking time to review everything, I’ve decided to rewrite certain sections of the book before it goes to press. So, the book is still on track to come out this year, but with all the rewriting that needs to be done, the release date is going to be pushed back until November. And, yes, I’ll still need about 10 people or so to review the second version. Email me if you’re interested in reviewing the new book.

On the upside, I was finally able to find someone who actually knows how to design book covers. I’m hoping to have it finalized no later than next week. I’ll post it here as soon as it’s ready to go.

Thanks again to all those who took the time to read it and give me feedback.

Dating and Marriage: No Regrets

Dating and Marriage

Writing in response to my Dating and Marriage: One Regret post David asks the following questions.

Abel,

I’m truly glad things worked out for you.

I don’t know your story, other than your late wife shot herself to death when she was pregnant. Personally, I could never marry someone in the kind of short time periods you talk about. And I wonder (and feel really uncomfortable saying this… but you have chosen to make your life public) how you maintain this opinion given what happened in your first relationship?

Doesn’t a long courtship give you the opportunity to see warning signs about how a person copes with challenges? I have been dating my girlfriend for a year and a half and I am learning what works and what doesn’t work with her, and then I have to think about whether I can cope with that effectively in the long term.

My response:

David,

Some background on my relationship with my late wife: we grew up in the same neighborhood. I knew her for years before we started dating.

During the time we dated and there was no indication whatsoever that she was suicidal or would emotionally change once she became pregnant.

When we decided to have a child after two years of marriage there was no indication she’d go off the deep end and take her own life. All of the warning signs occurred after she became pregnant—and even then the warning signs weren’t always crystal clear. Extending out our courtship another month or another year wouldn’t have given me some vital piece of information that would have made me change my mind about marrying her.

If anything losing her taught me that I shouldn’t waste time dating or courting someone once I know I’ve found the right person. That’s why when I realized I could spend the rest of my life happily married to Marathon Girl (and that she felt the same way), there was no point in dating anymore. We’ve been happily married now for seven years.

Like all couples we’ve had good and bad moments in our relationship but I can say that an extra month or even an extra year of courting wouldn’t have changed our minds about each other.

I’m not saying you should rush into marriage, but at some point all the dating in the world isn’t going to give you any further insight into that person. Then you have to ask yourself if you’d be willing to experience all of life’s good and bad moments with that person and no one else. If you are, then what’s the point in dating for another two months or two years?

In my experience and those of my friends, extended courtships (1 year or longer) aren’t any more successful than those who married within months after meeting each other. If anything, those in long courtships stand to lose the most if the relationship doesn’t end in marriage because they invested more time in it. I personally believe if you date someone for a year and you still don’t know whether or not that person’s right for you, then the answer is “no” and it’s time to quit wasting each other’s time.

There are no guarantees in this life, David. Whether married or single, we’ll go through periods of joy and heartache, riches and poverty. People we love will sometimes make stupid choices. If I could go back in time, I’d still marry my late wife even if I knew how things would end. Furthermore, I have no qualms about my whirlwind courtship with Marathon Girl. Even if she was to be taken from me tomorrow, I have absolutely no regrets about getting down on my knee and asking her to be my wife and spending seven wonderful years with her. I refuse to live in fear of things that are out of my control.

We all have the ability to discern and judge for ourselves whether or not the person we’re dating is the one person we hope to spend the rest of our lives with. It’s not just learning how someone reacts to challenges that’s important because I guarantee life’s going to throw you curveballs at you that neither of you will anticipate. It’s about whether we love someone enough to hold their hand and take a leap of faith and experience life together as husband and wife.

The question for you, David, is whether or not you love this woman enough to take that step.

Up with Grief

Up: Carl & Ellie

Note: This post was written for and posted on the Open to Hope site. You can see the original post here.

It's hard to find movies for adults that adequately deal with the death of a spouse and putting one's life back together. Fortunately, one of the movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar does a great job of dealing with the subjects of death, grief, and moving on better than any other film in recent memory—and it's target audience is kids.

The movie? Up.

In the first 20 minutes of the film we see Carl Fredricksen as a boy meeting his future wife, Ellie. When they grow up, they both want to become explorers and journey to faraway lands. Ellie shows Carl her adventure book that contains a few notes and drawings of things she's done. Most of the pages in the book are blank, and Ellie tells Carl that she's going to fill the rest of book with photos and of all the exciting things she's going to do.

Then the audience is taken on a short silent movie journey of their life. They get married and start careers. They decide to have a family only to find out she's infertile. Though the news is tough to swallw, they both decide to keep working and save their pennies for a trip to Paradise Falls in South America. But as the years pass, they keep raiding their savings to pay for car repairs and other life emergencies. They grow old, and one day Carl realizes that they've never taken the trip they dreamed about. He throws caution to the wind and buys tickets to Paradise Falls. Only they never make the trip. As he's about to surprise his wife with the plane tickets, she falls ill and dies.

The next time we see Carl he's a grumpy widower. Fed up with life and facing a court-ordered placement in a retirement home, he decides he's had enough. As a former balloon salesman, he rigs his Victorian house with thousands of balloons and launches it into the sky, determined to finally visit Paradise Falls. The only complication to his trip is that Russell, a neighborhood kid and wilderness explorer, has unwittingly come along for the ride too.

During the journey to the falls, the Victorian house becomes the symbol for Ellie. Not only does the house contain photographs and other reminders of Ellie and Carl's life together but, at various points in the journey, Carl looks up at the house talks to it, wondering what Ellie would say if only she were there with him.

As he travels with Russell, the house becomes more of a hindrance than a help. Carl's so determined to take the house to Paradise Falls that he's unable to form a relationship with Russell or even think about getting them both home safely. At times Carl seems more concerned about damage the house receives than the danger Russell and himself find themselves in.

Carl doesn't realize how much the house is holding him back until he finds himself browsing through Ellie's adventure book. As he turns the pages, he's surprised to discover that the blank pages she showed him years ago are filled with pictures of his and Ellie's life together. Suddenly Carl realizes that even though he and Ellie were never able to visit the Paradise Falls together, they did have a wonderful, fulfilling life as husband and wife. It doesn't matter that they never got to visit the falls together—the real adventure in life was the years spent with Ellie.

Armed with this new insight Carl is able to literally let go of the house in order to get he and Russell home safely. As a result, he's able to move on with his life and start a new and fulfilling chapter as a father for Russell. It's a message that anyone who's struggling to move on after the death of a spouse could use.

Don't let this beautifully animated film trick you into thinking it's for kids only. There's plenty in Up to keep kids entertained but with its unique plot and adept handling of more “grown up” issues, this life-affirming film deserves the Best Picture of the year award and is the new high water mark in movies that deal with grief and the loss of a spouse.

Widower Friends

Widower Needs A Friend

In the comment section of 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers, Tyler writes:

I have spent a lot of time online getting information on grieving, etc. After a wonderful marriage of 21 years, I have found myself as a widower of a big six weeks. NO-I am not ready to move on! That is a long way off. I happened upon this site as I was searching other information. As I have read these articles, however, a question has been raised in my head.

I understand that the lonliness [sic] and emptiness is a big part of the grieving process. Is longing for a friend to talk to necessarily a bad thing? As noted in some of your articles, I understand that widowers are no different than other singles in how we need to treat women. (Quite frankly I am shocked that this would have to be said.)

As with many single people who are not looking to become involved but want to be active rather than festering at home, is there an appropriate way to approach this situation? Looking at it from the opposite point of view, if I were a woman approached by a guy like me wanting a "friendship" after 3-4-5 months of widowerhood, I would probably run away as fast as I could!

In my case there will absolutely be no intimacy until marriage, so that is not the issue. I would also never even approach someone even as a friend without my children's knowledge and approval.

Thoughts about approaching a "friend"?

I highlight this comment because Tyler’s comment reflects a lot of the emotional state recent widowers (including myself many, many years ago) find themselves in: they’re not ready to date or even form a serious relationship but they want to reach out to someone (preferably female) who they can talk to and connect with. Even if they aren’t intending to get serious with someone, they’re trying to connect on an emotional level that’s bound to lead to some kind of emotional/romantic attachment on his part or the woman he becomes friends with. The result is going to be an emotional disaster for one or both people involved.

So for women who are dating widowers keep Tyler’s emotional state in mind as you start a relationship with a widower—especially a recent one. Yes, some widowers are ready to move on but a lot of them are looking to rebuild the emotional connection they had before their wife passed away. This means you need to keep your eyes wide open when you date a widower. And if you feel the widower’s not ready to move on, don’t be afraid to end the relationship and let him know that you don’t feel he’s ready for a serious relationship.

For widowers who feel like Tyler, I can understand the need to talk to someone about what you’re going through. And if you don’t have a friend that has lost a spouse, finding someone who can relate to what you’re going through can be very, very difficult. That being said, if you don’t feel that any of your current friends are the sounding board you need, get some kind of counseling. Sure, it costs money, but you can get stuff off your chest without the risk of becoming emotionally involved with someone. Friendships become strong when they’re based on enough common interests to grow and develop. Loneliness and a broken heart always make for a poor friendship foundation.

Update:Due to some comments on this post, here's the response I sent to the poster:

What is the purpose of this “friend?” you seek? Are you looking for someone you can talk to about your grief or someone you can just hang out with occasionally?

In either case, why does this “friend” have to be a woman? Don’t you have any guy friends now that you can hang around with on occasion?

Instead of seeking out an individual person, why not join a club or some other group where there are a lot of people and start making friends that way.

Friendships develop when there are enough common interests to build something on it. Loneliness and a broken heart always make for a poor foundation to find a friend.

Death do us part; then on to Match.com

Dating a Widower I got a brief mention in a Florida Weekly dating column on widowers making the transition to a new relationship and the challenges that come with it. My "Dating a Widower" Facebook group even got a mention. :-)

Vicki Kennedy makes for a striking widow. Now that she's said she won't fill her husband's senate seat, she has stepped firmly into the national conscience as a public figure of grief. The First Lady holds her hand at presidential conferences and liberals everywhere speak her name at prayer circles. At 55, she might some day remarry. But the odds are against it.

If things were different and Vicki passed before Teddy, chances are he'd be married this time next year. In fact, men are four times more likely to remarry after losing a spouse; 61 percent of men start dating within the first two years, compared to just 19 percent of women. It's ironic that the same men who hem and haw about being dragged into marriage — there's a reason women set ultimatums — are the ones who rush to find a ball and chain so soon after losing their spouse.

You can read the entire article here.

Widowers: They’re Still Men!

Widowers: They're Still Men!

Sometimes I feel like a broken record when it comes to the issues involved with dating a widower. Widowers are men. That means they act and behave like men. And men aren’t that hard to understand. If you start viewing your widower as a man instead of a widower, you’ll be able to quickly identify whether or not they’re ready to date again and, more importantly, are serious about you.

In the hopes that women can better understand widowers, here are five things that will give you some insight into men so you know whether or not they’re ready for a serious, committed relationship.

1. Men can’t be forced into loving someone

For some reason women have this idea they can charm a man into loving them. It doesn’t matter if he’s a widower, divorced, or a bachelor. Women think that somehow they can open a man’s eyes and make them see what a great catch she is.

Here’s the truth: You can’t. When it comes to love, men will figure out rather quickly whether or you’re one they want to spend the rest of their life with. When it comes to widowers, there’s nothing special you can do or say that will make the widower snap out of his grief. If he thinks you’re worth keeping, he’ll do that all on his own.

What you can do is learn how to dress nice, flirt, and learn how to get a man’s attention so he’ll ask you out and get to know you better. Let it be known that Marathon Girl didn’t do anything to help me put the grief for the late wife aside. The first time I saw her I had put my eyes back in my head and pick my jaw off the floor because she was so damn sexy. Then, after I got to know her better, I realized that not only was she hot but she had everything else I wanted in a future spouse. I knew she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I also realized the only way that was going to happen if I moved on with my life. It wasn’t a hard choice. I would have run 100 miles over shards of broken glass just to have her smile at me. After six years of marriage, she has the same affect on me.

And it’s not just me. Over the years I’ve been in touch with lots of widowers who have remarried and they all say the same thing: when the right person comes along, getting over grief is a cinch.

2. Men are, by nature, pursuers

When it comes to relationships, men do better when they’re the one pursing you. If you’re pursing them, you may get a few dates out of it but odds are you’re not going to get a committed relationship from your efforts.

When widowers decide to enter the dating waters after the death of their spouse, they’re often fighting feelings of whether or not they’re ready to date and if they can make room in their heart for another woman. This often makes widower hesitant to take the lead. Women can often sense this hesitancy and tend to take control of the relationship.

Don’t do this. Men need to decide for themselves if you’re worth it. Making this decision for them is only asking for heartache if you perceive the relationship as getting serious. With widowers, having to decide to ask you out or plan a date forces them to come to grips with their internal struggle of whether or not they’re ready to date again and whether or not you’re worth it. (See #1.)

Keep in mind that this applies to the early stages of a relationship where men need to decide if you’re worth it. As the relationship becomes more serious and you become more comfortable with each other, then you can step in. Once they feel like they’ve conquered the relationship and made you the center of their universe, they’ll do whatever you want.

3. Men can only actively love one person at a time

Would you date a man who was still angry over a recent divorce or getting over a breakup with his girlfriend? No? Then why on earth do you date a man who says he’s still grieving his late wife?

Men can only actively love one person at a time. If they still have strong feelings for another person—regardless of whether that person is alive or dead—you’re going to be the rebound relationship. Is that something you really want?

Widowers have to learn how to put their love for the late wife aside and actively love you. This doesn’t mean they stop loving the late wife but it means their utmost thoughts and feelings are for you. Playing second fiddle to an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend is bad enough. It’s even worse when the person is dead.

Avoid men who still clinging to the past. If you don’t, you’re not only in for a roller coaster ride but there’s a broken heart for you at the end.

4. Men’s actions speak louder than their words

Talk is not only cheap, it can be very seductive. Don’t listen to a man’s flattering words. It doesn’t matter how many times a man says he loves you or cares about you. When a guy really loves you, his actions and words will align. Not only will he say you’re the center of his universe, you’ll feel like it too.

Don’t start making excuses for a widower’s behavior because he’s still “grieving.” If he says he’s not giving you the attention, love, and dedication you want because he’s struggling to move on that means 1) he’s not ready for a serious relationship or 2) he’s simply using you for companionship, sex, to fill the hole in his heart, or a combination of the three.

Don’t settle of a second tier relationship. You deserve better. A lot better. Find someone who will treat you like a queen instead of giving you excuses why he can’t make you numero uno.

5. Men don’t equate sex with commitment

My inbox overfloweth with emails from women dating widowers who are dumped soon after sleeping with them. The women generally attribute the widowers’ behavior to some grief related issues and want to know what they can do about it. My answer: nothing.

With men, sex doesn't equal commitment. This goes for single and divorced men and widowers. If the man wasn’t a widower, most women would realized that they had just been used for their bodies. But because he’s a widower and “grieving” most women aren’t quick to what just happened.

You want a committed relationship, get the man to sacrifice for you. Have him prove his love. As Alisa Goodwin Snell, licensed therapist and author of “Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man” writes:

Sacrifice is deeply connected to love. If you are excessively available, eager to please, quick to meet his needs, and reluctant to express your feelings or needs, you will deny him the opportunity to sacrifice for you. This will turn him off to you and the relationship, due to your lack of faith and trust in him, while also preventing him from developing deep love for you.

If you’re looking for a serious, long term relationship with a guy, zip your legs and wait to see if it's you he wants or sex. If a guy’s looking to use you just for sex, he can only put a seductive façade for so long. Sooner or later the real him will appear. Better to be cautious and make sure the widower is serious about you then to end up with a one night stand and regretting it.

Remember, widowers are men. They act and behave like men. Most widower issues are really man issues. Never the term widower make you think otherwise. Understand men and 99% of any widower-related issues will be solved.

Other widower-related articles by Abel

  • Up with Grief NEW!
  • Dating and Marriage: One Regret NEW!
  • Widowers: They're Still Men! NEW!
  • 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers
  • Photos of the Dead Wife
  • 5 Signs a Widower is Serious About Your Relationship
  • How Vice President Joe Biden Dealt with Grief
  • Life with a Widower
  • Dating a Widower
  • The Grief Industry
  • Suicide Survivor
  • A Letter to Elizabeth
  • Sex and Intimacy with Widowers
  • The Widowerhood Excuse
  • How to Talk to a Widower
  • Red Flags to Watch for When Dating A Widower
  • Should I Dump the Widower for Lying or Dating too Soon?

    Dating a Widower

    Originally published here.

    Julie asks: I recently began dating a widower who told me his wife died a year ago. I've just learned she actually died 4 months ago. I like this man very much and we enjoy each other's company. I don't know details of how long she was ill, but he did say some of his kids (adults now) don't approve of his dating. Should I stop dating this recent widower for not telling the truth or simply because it's too soon, or both?

    Abel Keogh responds:

    To paraphrase an old saying: If you see one cockroach, there are 100 more you can’t see.

    The fact that the widower started dating months after his wife’s death isn’t a big deal. Some people are ready to date again after a few months of grieving. For others it can take years before they’re ready to start a new relationship. When dating a widow or widower what’s important is that they’re moving on with their life and making you feel like the center of their universe.

    What’s disturbing is that the widower lied about when his wife died. He may have done it thinking that the truth would scare you away. I started dating 5 months after my wife’s death. It was very hard to tell the women I was dating that my late wife had died a few months earlier. Even though I was hesitant to answer the question when the subject came up, I always told the truth – even if the truth meant I didn’t get a second date. I don’t condone his lie but, if he did it because he thought the truth would end any chance of another date, I can at least sympathize with why he did it.

    Keep in mind that solid, long lasting relationships can only be built on the truth. I would seriously re-examine the relationship from top to bottom and decide if it’s worth continuing. If you choose to continue the relationship, don’t be surprised if more cockroaches surface down the road.

    10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers

    Note: I've updated a dating post I wrote a couple years ago and posted it on the Open to Hope site. The article is also reprinted below. 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers

    Dating again after the death of a spouse can be an awkward experience. It can bring out feelings of guilt, betrayal from the person dating again. It can also bring out feelings of confusion and concern from friends, family, and those who were close to the deceased spouse.

    If you’ve lost a spouse and are looking to date again, here are 10 tips to make sure you’re able to successfully navigate the dating waters.

    1. When you decide to date again is up to you

    There’s no specific time period that one should wait before dating again. Grieving and the process of moving on is something that’s unique to each person. Some people take years, others weeks, and then there are those who choose never to date again. Whatever you do, don’t let others tell you you’re moving too fast or waiting too long. Make sure it’s something you’re really ready to try before taking that step.

    I started dating five months after my late wife died. Too soon? There were some friends and family who thought so. But five months was when I felt ready to at least test the dating waters. And thought it took a few dates to get the hang of things, I have no regrets about dating that soon.

    2. Make sure you’re dating for the right reasons

    If you feel like dating again, take some time to understand why you want to date again. It’s not wrong to date because you’re lonely or desire some company. Single people date for those reasons too. However, if you’re dating because you think it going to somehow fill the void or heal the pain that comes from losing a spouse, it’s not going to happen. However, dating does give you the opportunity to open your heart to another person and chance to experience the unique and exquisite joy that comes with falling in love again.

    3. Feeling guilty is natural – at first

    The first time I went to dinner with another woman, I felt like I was cheating on my late wife. As we entered the restaurant, I was filled with feelings of guilt and betrayal. Throughout our entire date I kept looking around to see if there was anyone in the restaurant I knew. I thought that if someone saw me out with another woman, the first thing they’d do is run and tell my dead wife what I was up to. It sounds silly, but I couldn’t shake that feeling the entire evening. A week later I went out with someone else. The same feelings of guilt were there only they were less intense. It took about five dates before the feeling went away entirely and I could actually enjoy the company of the woman I was with without feeling guilty.

    As you date, feelings of guilt should subside over time – especially when you find that special someone you might want to spend the rest of your life with. If the guilt’s not subsiding, you might not be ready to date again. Give dating a break and try dating again when you might be more up to the task.

    4. It’s okay to talk about the deceased spouse – just don’t overdo it

    Unless you’re good friends or have known your date previously, he or she is going to be naturally curious about your spouse and previous marriage. And it’s OK to talk about the spouse when you’re first dating someone. Answer questions he or she may have about your marriage but don’t spend all your time talking about the dead or how happy you were. After all your date is the one that's here now. And who knows, he or she might make you incredibly happy for years to come. Constantly talking about the past, may make it seem like you’re not ready to move on and start a new relationship. Showing that you care enough to get to know them can help reassure your date that you’re ready to start a new life with someone else.

    5. Your date is not a therapist

    Would you like going out with someone who constantly talked about issues she was having in her life? Dating isn’t a therapy session – it’s an opportunity to spend time with someone else and enjoy their company. If you find yourself dating just to talk about the pain in your heart, how much you miss your spouse, or tough times you’re going though, seek professional help. Spending $60 an hour on professional help you much more than spending $60 for dinner and a movie. Besides, your date will have a more memorable night if it’s about him or her then about everything you’re going through.

    6. It’s okay to make mistakes when you’re finding your dating legs

    When I started dating again, it had been seven years since I had gone out with anyone other than my wife. Because I had a certain comfort level with my first wife, I often found myself forgetting proper dating etiquette such as opening the car door or not walking a date to her door when the date was over.

    If you find yourself forgetting simple dating etiquette, don’t worry about it. Most dates would understand if they knew it had been awhile since you dated. But don’t make the same mistake over and over. Learn from them and continue moving forward. You’ll be surprised how fast your dating legs return.

    7. Defend your date

    You may discover when once the family and friends learn you’re dating again they may not treat this new woman or man in your life very well. The treatment may come in the form of a cold shoulder at family activities or constantly talking about the deceased wife in front of the date. If you have family and friends who are doing this, they need to be told privately, but in a loving manner, that this behavior is not acceptable. If you wouldn’t let family or friends treat your spouse that way, why would you tolerate that behavior toward someone else – especially when your date could become your future spouse? Don’t be afraid to defend your date. If you can’t do that, then you have no business dating again.

    8. Realize that not everyone will understand why you’re dating again There will always be someone who will not understand why you’ve chosen to date again. They may give you a hard time for dating again or have some silly romantic notion that widows and widowers shouldn’t fall in love again. Their options do not matter. All that matters is that you’re ready to date again. You don’t need to justify your actions to them or anyone else.

    9. Take things slow

    The death of a spouse means losing the intimate physical contact. After awhile we miss the kisses, having someone’s head resting on our shoulder, or the warm body next to us in bed. This lack of physical and emotional intimacy is enough to drive a lot of people into the dating scene. Don’t feel bad if you find yourself missing these things. It’s completely normal.

    In the dating world wanting something that was part of our lives for years can become a ticking time bomb. It can force us into a serious relationship before we’re ready. The result: lots of broken hearts and emotional baggage.

    If you find that you’re on a date and it’s going well, don’t be afraid to take things slow. This isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s hard not to throw ourselves at our date if things are going good because we want to be close to someone again. We want that warm body next to ours and have the words “I love you” whispered in our ears. But it can save you and your date a lot of emotional heartache if you wait to make sure what you’re doing is because you love the other person and not because you miss the intimacy that came with your late husband or wife.

    10. Make your date feel like the center of the universe

    It’s a basic dating rule but it’s often forgotten by widows and widowers. Because we already have someone special in our lives, sometimes we forget to make our date feel special too. Treat your date in such a way that he or she feels like she’s the center of your universe. He or she shouldn’t have to compete against a ghost – even if you only have one date with that person. As long you’re out together, he or she should be the center of your universe.

    Even though dating can be awkward and difficult at times, it can also be a lot of fun. There’s no reason being a widow or widower should hold you back from enjoying a night out. Part of the reason we’re here is to live and enjoy life. And dating is a great way to start living again.

    ***

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    More widower-related articles by Abel Keogh

  • Up with Grief NEW!
  • Dating and Marriage: One Regret NEW!
  • Widowers: They're Still Men! NEW!
  • 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers
  • Photos of the Dead Wife
  • 5 Signs a Widower is Serious About Your Relationship
  • How Vice President Joe Biden Dealt with Grief
  • Life with a Widower
  • Dating a Widower
  • The Grief Industry
  • Suicide Survivor
  • A Letter to Elizabeth
  • Sex and Intimacy with Widowers
  • The Widowerhood Excuse
  • How to Talk to a Widower
  • Red Flags to Watch for When Dating A Widower
  • The Other Love of His Life

    Amy Paturel has the My Turn column in the latest issue of Newsweek which, interestingly, deals with her fiancé and herself having to make peace with the dead wife before they could move on. A lot of her emotions echo what women who are dating widowers have emailed me over the years. Writes Patruel:

    I pored over her pictures trying to learn everything I could about the woman who came before me. She would always hold a place in Brandon's heart, so I needed to know who she was.

    A chill came over me when I visited her memorial page and read through the online guest book: "No one could ever fill her shoes," someone wrote. That launched me into my next search: "dating a widower." Every site I visited warned of men who disappear after a few months out of guilt, those who constantly draw comparisons to their late spouse and those who live in the tragic state of "what if?" Brandon hadn't done any of those things.

    But then I read this: "If he has pictures of her on the walls, clothes of hers in the closet and trinkets of their life together on display, he is not ready."

    Brandon insisted he wanted to move on, that she was dead and he was not. He even avoided the red flags I had read about. About a month into the relationship, the ring came off. Pictures were tucked away and replaced. Slowly, her clothes began to disappear from the closet.

    Yet I still grappled with the feeling that I might never measure up to what he lost. In his mind, she will always be 33 and beautiful. Me? I'll get gray hair, wrinkled skin and flabby thighs. What's more, their relationship will remain perfect, frozen forever in newlywed bliss. In six short months, they didn't weather the storms that come with age and time: sleepless nights caring for newborns, arguments over money, in-law drama.

    Her essay is a good vignette on what it takes for both people to find peace and start a new life together.

    You can read Paturel’s essay here.

    (Thanks for the link, Erin!)

    Widow’s Friends Disown Her for Having New Relationship

    In my latest post on the OpentoHope site, I answer the following question from Anne: I lost my dad and husband within a week of each other three years ago, and life has been a battle. My dearest friends (a couple that my husband and I used to do everything with) won't accept the fact I am seeing another man and have been for nearly two years. The husband told me the other day never to come back and see them. I have given them space and continue to love and support them, Please help. I am just so sad about it. I have tried talking to them but they won't. I am also their daughter's godmother and she is heart-broken her parents are doing this. Help me.

    You can read my answer here.

    My Life: Seven Years Later

    My latest post on the OpentoHope site was posted today.

    November tenth is a day that creeps up on me now.

    It wasn’t always this way.

    In past years it was a day heavy with memories, emotions, and unanswered questions.

    Now it’s a day just like any other.

    This year it wasn’t until after lunch that I looked at the calendar in my office and noted the date. Suddenly, I realized what day it was. I pushed my laptop to the side and looked out the window at the green grass and sunshine. In seconds the memory of hearing a gunshot from our bedroom and finding my late wife’s lifeless body flashed through my mind followed by a tinge of the raw terror that flowed through my body that afternoon.

    You can read it in its entirity here.

    The American Widow Project

    On the way to work this morning, I heard a fascinating report on NPR about the American Widow Project – a non-profit organization for (young) military widows. The American Widow project was started by Taryn Davis who was just 21-years-old when her husband was killed in Iraq. Feeling alone she took a camera and started making a documentary that ended up being turned into a national support grow for other widows. It’s a moving story and you can listen to it here. Though I’m not a military widower, I remember wanting resources that could help. Now it seems like there are more and more of them. I hope young miliary widows can find the support they need through this group. You can check out The American Widow Project here.

    Update: Here's a trailer to their documentary.

    A Letter to Carol

    Carol, The email addres you left on my contact form bounced. Here's my reply:

    You're not being too sensitive. You should feel like the number one woman in the the widower's life. Instead, you're playing second fiddle to a dead woman.

    The problems with the in-laws aren't going to go away either once you become engaged or get married. If anything they're going to get worse since the guy you're dating doesn't have the spine to stand up to his former in-laws.

    Stop wasting your time on this relationship. It's time to move on and find someone who will treat you like the center of his universe.

    Best wishes,

    Abel

    Widow’s Friends Don't Want Her to Date Again

    My latest post on the OpenToHope site is up. I answer the following question. Ann from Michigan writes: My husband of 23 years and my dad died within a week of each other. It was awful. We had a large circle of close friends who were great to me, but when I met another man, they were not happy and were always looking for faults with him and trying to tell me not to be with him. They don’t understand that I am just trying to move forward with life. I will always love my husband, but I know I must move on. I can’t go back to the way it was before March 2006. Some people have even broken off their friendship with me. Why can’t they understand and support me?

    You can read my answer here.